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Thursday, Nov 29, 2012
In the past few days, Uncut, Mojo, and Paste have released their Album of the Year lists, and AllMusic is dropping theirs throughout the week. Some quick analysis shows that it's pretty obvious what the #1 record of the year is going to be for a lot of publications...

With early returns from Mojo, Uncut, and Paste already pouring in, we’re beginning to develop a clear picture of what this year’s Album of the Year race is starting to shape up as, and it’s pretty darn interesting.


Presently, with a #2 showing at Mojo, #5 with Uncut, and a penthouse position with Paste (on top of glowing reviews from all across the spectrum), it’s safe to say that Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE is 2012’s universally accepted favorite. Additionally, there is a good 90% chance it will top Pitchfork‘s tally, and numerous other publications will have it easily in their Top 10, most likely keeping it in their Top 3. Yet Ocean’s victory comes at a price: while channel ORANGE is quite extraordinary and often very gutting, what a lot of critical institutions will “hear” is the backstory, with Ocean’s heartfelt admission of his sexuality being accepted in the hip-hop community taking more ink than the music that inspired his revelation, these two events in tandem marking a watershed moment for a notoriously homophobic genre that will be celebrated for years to come. This being said, keep an eye on write-ups that appear about channel ORANGE, and see if the conversation is more about the album itself or what Ocean’s closet-destroying moment signifies in a cultural context. Critics very much want to be on the right side of history, but is channel ORANGE an achievement for its bold sexual politics or because it’s just a great album?


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Wednesday, Oct 10, 2012
Last week, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced the 15 contenders vying to be inducted as part of its Class of 2013. By adhering to the Hall's broad definition of rock 'n' roll and by trying to objectively apply its induction criteria, Sound Affects has narrowed down the choices to five artists it would vote for if it could.

Last week, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame made its annual announcement of which 15 names are up for consideration to be voted into the institution. Of the many artists nominated this year, tradition dictates that only five will be honored at the induction ceremony scheduled to take place in April 2013. This year, voters will be spoiled for worthy choices, making the competition to enter the Hall unfortunately fierce for several acts that have been waiting an obscenely long time to be enshrined.


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Thursday, Oct 4, 2012
The newly-announced ballot for the next class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees not only seeks to rectify long-standing slights but lets the public have a say for once. Here's hoping it doesn't go all pear-shaped.

After an interminable delay, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has finally announced its ballot of possible inductees for next year’s ceremony, due to take place on April 18. While the Hall has garnered a reputation amongst the public for many questionable choices and egregious snubs during its history—especially over the last decade—this year’s ballot shows positive signs that the Nominating Committee has finally registered some of the more frequent criticisms, and is progressively improving in regards to atoning for long-standing slights.


If you haven’t heard which 15 artists made the grade this year yet (I take it you’re not a Rush fan?), the Hall unveiled them hours ago on its Facebook page and in this handy YouTube announcement:


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Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012
At the Drive-In and Refused are both reuniting for high-profile (and high-paycheck) shows in 2012. What does this say about their legacy, or punk rock in general?

At this year’s Coachella festival, two of the best punk bands of the past 20 years will reunite. Refused and At the Drive-In, two bands that succeeded in breaking the “my skateboard is broken and so is my heart” mold that most punk during the last half of the 1990s fell into, will be performing reunion gigs for the first time in years, and people will probably lose their shit. Which is all well and good, but what does it say about the state of punk rock that nostalgia has suddenly become not only popular, but profitable?


At the Drive-In in particular never seemed like likely candidates for a grab-the-money-and-run reunion show. The band, whose live shows were the stuff of legend, famously dissolved on the verge of achieving mainstream success with its 2000 album Relationship of Command, splitting into the more punk-influenced Sparta and the so-prog-it-hurts Mars Volta. Mars Volta leaders Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala distanced themselves from ATDI as much as possible following the split, at one point deriding the group as “jock rock”. But here they are. And why? “We’re not getting any younger and there’s been an offer of money every year”, Rodriguez-Lopez told NME this month. “You can’t avoid that. You’d be a fool and politician to pretend that wasn’t part of it.”


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Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012
By hiring Wynton Marsalis as its new "cultural correspondent", CBS is setting jazz music back, and it's everybody's loss.

On January 16, Wynton Marsalis will make his debut as CBS’ newest cultural correspondent. Ostensibly, this move makes sense: Marsalis is one of jazz’s most visible figures, and has had a successful tenure as the artistic director of the New York City-based Lincoln Center’s jazz program. Marsalis is a genuine virtuoso, and he’s an eloquent, engaging speaker as well.


But this is a terrible idea. It’s bad for jazz as an art form, and it’s bad for the public. The only people it’s not bad for are Marsalis and CBS, who both stand to profit handsomely: CBS for having someone as “hip” as Marsalis as a correspondent, and Marsalis for furthering his own cult of personality.


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